Monday, January 5, 2015

Winterkill - Kate A. Boorman

Title: Winterkill
Author: Kate A. Boorman
Publisher: Amulet Books, 2014 (Hardcover)
Length: 318 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction
Started: January 1, 2015
Finished: January 4, 2015

From the inside cover:

In the woods outside Emmeline's isolated settlement, a powerful enemy lurks, one that wiped out much of the population generations ago. Inside the settlement's walls, Emmeline is watched for Waywardness - the rule-breaking behaviour that sent her grandmother to her death. She knows she shouldn't go into the trees or seek answers to questions no one else will ask.

When one of the settlement leaders asks for her hand, she could wipe the slate clean, ridding herself and her family of the Stain of her grandma's crimes. But there's something out there in the woods...and it's calling to her.

I saw this and the premise looked interesting, and later found out why it sounded familiar, it has a similar setup to M. Night Shyamalan's movie "The Village".

In Emmeline's time, society as we know it is gone, with only a small settlement of English and French speaking survivors living in a large village on the Canadian Prairies surrounded by watch towers to protect them from the Malmaci, the monsters in the woods that killed the early settlers of Emmeline's people. Emmeline's family is Stained (Emmeline even more so because of her injured foot), seen as lesser by everyone else because of the crimes of her grandmother, who was killed for them. Waywardness, rule-breaking, is not tolerated, and anyone who is found to constantly break the rules is left to die.

Emmeline isn't afraid of the woods, and in fact hears them call to her. She and her friend Tom explore to find remnants of the Lost People, the native peoples that lived in the area before Emmeline's people settled there. Emmeline's curiosity and daydreaming have led the Elders to watch her for Wayward behaviour. When one of the Elders, Brother Stockham, asks for Emmeline's hand in marriage, she and her father see it as a way to get rid of the Stain that shames the family, but Emmeline has doubts, and also loves another. As La Prise (Winter) sets in and the settlement will be enclosed till spring and Emmeline married off, she sets out to find out more about the strange things she discovered in the woods before it is too late.

I enjoyed the insertion of French and English into the book's dialogue. It is explained that Emmeline's group of people is a mix of both speakers, hence why the inhabitants tend to use both interchangeably . I can see that it could be jarring and choppy for a reader who can't read French, but it did not bother me. Also, I appreciated the obvious Canadian references (props to the author being Canadian): Saskatoon berries, the Prairies, bilingualism, and the freezing death of winter. Emmeline and Kane's romance is well done, they're very sweet together and the romance did have a chance to build satisfactorily.

I wasn't too fond of the ending though, it felt too rushed and that I was missing something, perhaps that I was expecting more of a revelation about the Lost Peoples.

Good premise and execution but leaves a bit to be desired at the end.

Thoughts on the cover:
Gorgeous, I love how everything's laid out.

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